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Oct 22, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Weekend Project: Pita

August 26th 01:08pm, 2016

TheProject_Aug16_01

 

We don’t even want to move during St. Louis summers, much less spend hours over a hot stove or oven. Inspired by the cuisine of the sunny Mediterranean, these recipes for pitas and two refreshing dips revive you for exciting warm weather adventures. Simple tzatziki brings together the cool flavors of cucumber, mint and lemon with the tang of a good yogurt. If you are feeling ambitious, you can make your own yogurt, or get creative and change up the herbs with whatever looks good in the garden. Dill, chives and oregano all make interesting and savory variations.

The roasted eggplant-mushroom dip is also childlike in its simplicity but surprisingly filling. It is one of my favorite dishes to take to a party or have around for lunch on the go; make a lot because it never lasts long. This dish is also ripe for creativity. Try roasting other vegetables and adding them to the blend.

The Gameplan
Day 1: Prep the pita dough.
Day 2: Bake the pitas. Make the dips.

The Shopping List*
1 package yeast
4½ cups bread flour
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh dill
5 to 7 cloves garlic
2 lemons
2 to 3 cups cubed eggplant
2 cups chopped mixed mushrooms
1 bunch fresh parsley
½ tsp. cumin

*This list assumes you have canola oil, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper at hand in your kitchen. If not, you will need to purchase those items, too.

 

TheProject_Aug16_02

 

Pita Bread
8 pitas

2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 package (about 2½ tsp.) active dry yeast
4½ cups bread flour
2 tsp. kosher salt

Day 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment, combine the water, oil and yeast. Let the yeast proof 5 to 10 minutes, until bubbles begin to form on the surface.
• With the mixer on medium speed, add 1 cup flour and mix thoroughly 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, mixing each thoroughly before adding the next. Add the salt.
• Continue to knead the dough on medium-high speed 2 to 4 minutes, until it forms a ball on the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with oiled plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
• Place a pizza stone or cookie sheet in a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
• Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 3-ounce pieces.
• Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough into 1/8-thick circles. Let rise on the work surface 20 minutes.
• Working in batches if needed, use a large, heatproof spatula to slide the pitas onto the pizza stone. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until puffed and slightly brown but still soft. Repeat with the remaining pitas, if needed. Cover them with clean towel to keep warm until time to serve with dips.

 

TheProject_Aug16_03

 

Tzatzki
3 cups

2 cups Greek yogurt or homemade yogurt
1 cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
¼ cup minced mint
¼ cup minced dill
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ tsp. kosher salt

• Day 2: Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt. Serve with pitas.

 

Roasted Eggplant-Mushroom Dip
3 cups

2 to 3 cups cubed eggplant
2¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
8 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cups chopped mixed mushrooms
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 to 6 cloves raw or roasted garlic
¼ cup parsley, chopped
½ tsp. cumin
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Day 2: Cube the eggplant and toss in a colander with 2 teaspoons salt. Place the colander over a bowl and let the water drain from the eggplant, about 30 minutes.
• Place a large skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Working in batches, add a layer of eggplant and saute until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Add another 2 tablespoons canola oil and repeat with the remaining eggplant. Set aside and let cool.
• Working in batches, add 2 tablespoons canola oil and add a layer of mushrooms. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and saute until the release their water and are browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Add another 2 tablespoons canola oil and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Set aside and let cool.
• In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic, olive oil, parsley and cumin until combined. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, lemon juice and zest and pulse again until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pulse again to desired consistency. Serve with pitas.

By Anne Marie and Dan Lodholz

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